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Incarcerated Arizona veterans use yoga to prepare for life after jail

Updated: Dec 19, 2022

From AZ Central-

Some say yoga sets you free. And one group of enthusiasts is taking that literally, hoping the ancient discipline will keep incarcerated military veterans from returning to jail.

After a breathing practice at the end of a Friday morning class at Maricopa County Towers Jail, one inmate opened his eyes to the white painted brick of the jail chapel and a row of orange uniforms marked “MCSO Unsentenced,” sighed and said, “Damn, I’m still here.”

He’s among the veterans incarcerated at Maricopa County Towers Jail participating in an eight-week course using curriculum from the Prison Yoga Project. Volunteer yoga instructors teach the two-hour class once a week.

The intent is to promote rehabilitation, reduce recidivism, and improve public safety.

“I’ve been making mistakes my entire life,” Joseph Allison, another inmate in the class and an Army veteran who served as a power generation equipment repairer during the Reagan era, said. “Being in jail for a second time is just a continuation of that.”

Allison said an extended struggle with drug abuse resulted in his incarcerations.

He said the yoga program has given him the tools to forgive himself and internalize change — a strength he said he didn’t have during his first time in jail.

“Taking this yoga class is the first time in my life where I feel like I have truly changed my thinking,” Allison said. “I’ve learned to channel my stress through yoga and different tools I never had before.”

To read more of this article by Grace Oldham for Arizona Republic, click here!

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